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Sky and BBC help each other to strengthen their roles as aggregator and broadcaster

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Sky viewers have long been able to enjoy BBC content on-demand via an integrated catch-up service across Sky+ and Sky Q, but thanks to an extended collaboration, Sky customers will now be able to watch BBC programmes via the BBC iPlayer app or by pressing the red button when watching a BBC channel, as well. The two services were added to the Sky Q platform in November.

Sky customers will also have easier access to BBC children’s content with popular shows like ‘The Dumping Ground’ and ‘The Worst Witch’ being made available as box-set series across the Kids section of Sky Q. The two companies are exploring a range of other partnership opportunities, including the availability of BBC Sounds (the BBC’s music app, which features all its live radio channels and podcasts) on Sky and NOW TV platforms.

It is clear that Sky and the BBC have a long-term strategy to work more closely together. This even includes an early stage exploration into the use of PromoSmart – a new solution powered by Sky’s AdSmart targeting technology – to serve up more personalised promotional content to BBC viewers. This would make it possible for viewers in different households to be shown different trailers for BBC content depending on their interests, with the trailers shown during breaks between programmes when watching BBC channels live.

Stephen van Rooyen, CEO UK & Ireland at Sky, says: “We are pleased to work with the BBC on such a broad-ranging partnership – it is a great example of how UK broadcasters can work together for the benefit of viewers and the industry. We are continuing to explore, together with the BBC, how it could use Sky’s innovative technology to help it better connect with licence-fee payers for the long term.”

Bob Shennan, Group Managing Director at the BBC, comments: “We’re thrilled that viewers who watch our programmes on Sky will now be able to enjoy the full BBC iPlayer experience, and to access our full red-button service. BBC iPlayer is a fantastic way to watch the incredible breadth of programmes the BBC offers. We’re looking forward to experimenting with PromoSmart. This agreement shows how the BBC and Sky can work together to give audiences the very best experience and support a strong UK media industry, and we look forward to continuing this relationship.”

In a separate development, the new XITE app, an interactive music video platform where you can discover, curate and play your favourite music videos in one place, is being added to the Sky Q platform. Sky Q already features Spotify and YouTube and XITE expands the music portfolio for the big screen.

Editor’s comment:

Pay TV operators and their content partners have always performed a delicate dance. Channel owners had to accept an intermediary between them and their viewers in the multichannel TV world and the increasing influence of aggregators with their programme guides, wider user interface and VOD offers. But the emergence of reliable streaming gives content owners the chance to go direct-to-consumer with their apps and establish their own ‘customer’ relationship. However, viewing on streaming platforms is still dwarfed by broadcast TV (all-age average).

SVOD services from the likes of Netflix and increasingly Amazon are attracting more viewers and now content owners who are the bedrock of Pay TV are going direct-to-consumer – as with Disney and its new Disney+ service. The future of Pay TV relies on being the content discovery agent of choice and the pre-eminent aggregator of the best content – including popular apps in a ‘super-aggregator’ model. The future of broadcasters relies on being everywhere consumers want them – which means that parallel to their D2C strategies they must work with pre-eminent aggregators and maximise the impact they have via those platforms.

It is no surprise therefore, to see deeper collaborations between operators and broadcasters and we can expect more of it, in every major market, as the ‘incumbent’ television industry doubles down on its symbiotic relationship. The recent decision by Channel 4 to use Sky AdSmart for addressable advertising on broadcast linear TV (in Sky homes) is another example of how some UK public broadcasters are deepening their relationship with Sky, the biggest Pay TV operator in the country.

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